Several years ago, the web standard body World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) published a new type of query standard designed to gather data from multiple sources.
This query standard SPARQL, pronounced “sparkle”, allows users focus on what they want to know over distributed data sources rather than relying on data format. It was no brainer that this could certainly boost the development speed of Web 2.0 applications (which is actually not so different than semantic web).
So why is it/was so hot?
Our known traditional query languages such as SQL/XQuery /DMX are engineered for accessing to a single source of data. Tests show it doesn’t work well when several source combined together. On the other hand, SPARQL, which is an RDF query language, can create a single query for multiple sources and combine the results on the fly.
This standard brings about a standardized SQL – like query language for the Semantic Web. And, like most Semantic Web standards, it is heavily based on RDF (Resource Description Framework). Although it also makes use of many Web services standards such as WSDL (Web Services Description Language). As a data access language, it is suitable for both local and remote use. So imagine the power to query the whole online world instead of just a DB.
As I was saying since SPARQL has no tie to a specific database format, it can be used to harness the true power of semantic web. I was one of the many believers, when Tim Berners-Lee (W3C director and inventor of World Wide Web) said – “Trying to use the Semantic Web without SPARQL is like trying to use a relational database without SQL…. SPARQL makes it possible to query information from databases and other diverse sources in the wild, across the web.”
This SPARQL was rolling on W3C’s RDF Data Access Working Group (DWAG) table for quite some time. Initially released as a Candidate Recommendation in April 2006, but returned to Working Draft status in October 2006, due to two open issues. In June 2007, SPARQL advanced to Candidate Recommendation once again. On 12th November 2007 the status of SPARQL changed into Proposed Recommendation. And finally on 15th January 2008, SPARQL was standardized. But hey, good things do take time to build.